Living and running in Texas, I know a thing or two about summer running when it’s hot.  By the time the sun comes up, it’s usually already 80 degrees.  Considering it’s currently June and not even officially summer yet, it’s not likely to get better until at least September or October.  I am definitely not a fan of the heat, but do need to get some outdoor miles logged.  Since I am currently training for distance races in July and October, I can’t wimp out and run on the treadmill all the time, even though that’s way more climate controlled than running outdoors.  Here are a few tips for running in the heat that have helped me:

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Drink plenty of water before, during and after your run.  Dehydration is nothing to mess around with.  For runs longer than 45 minutes or an hour, consider adding electrolytes to your drink.  I’m a big fan of NUUN but sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade will help you replenish the electrolytes lost through sweating.  It’s always a good idea to carry a handheld water bottle and to plan a route where additional water is available.

2. Slow down the pace and take time to acclimate to the heat.  It takes the body a couple weeks to adjust to the increasing temperatures.  Slowing down your usual pace will help your body adjust as it works to cool itself.

3. Run by effort.  Running in the heat is tough, no matter how fit you are.  Your body has to work harder to cool itself.  Running by effort rather than pace will help keep you from pushing yourself to hard.

4. Run at cooler times.  Once the sun comes up, it’s hot.  Actually, it’s hot before that but gets worse when the sun makes its appearance.  Getting out early while it’s still dark can help you beat the heat as much as possible and take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures.  Since some of my weekend long runs are over 3 hours, it’s absolutely necessary for me to get started in the pre-dawn hours.  I usually start running around 5 or 5:30 so that I can be done before 9 AM.  Running this early gives me time to get my run done, shower and hit the couch for a well-deserved nap.

5. Dress for the weather.  Wearing light-colored wicking fabric is helpful to keep your body somewhat cooler.  My favorite summer attire includes lightweight running shorts, a sports bra, and a tank top (this tank top is available here).  I also like to wear a white hat with ventilation that keeps the sun off my face and the sweat out of my eyes.

6. Move indoors.  When it gets super-hot and you aren’t able to run when it’s cooler, consider moving your run indoors.  I know treadmills aren’t necessarily fun for many people but it does allow for a more climate-controlled run.  I prefer running outside whenever possible but the treadmill is an excellent option when the temperatures really start to soar.

Remember that it’s critical to take care of your body when it gets warm.  Be careful and stay cool out there!

What tips do you have for beating the heat?

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